Remote working options for your team
One of the biggest changes to our lives in recent years has been working from home and remote working. For some this has been a blessing, for others it hasn’t made much difference, and for a few, it’s made life at home a bit confusing.
No matter how you or your team may feel about working from home, it’s here to stay. This presents a number of exciting opportunities and unique challenges for teams as they try to adjust to the new normal.
In this guide, we’ve put together our top tips to help you get your team up and running so they can work productively and happily from home.
- Setting up your team
- Connecting your team together
- Keeping the team motivated
- Work – life balance and respecting boundaries
- Tax relief options
Setting up your team
Unlike our offices that have been set up ready for us to complete our work, our homes might not be so well equipped. So, the first step in helping your team to adjust to remote working is to set up their space.
Start with their technology. Laptops can be very useful, but they may not be enough for your team – especially if they normally use a different set-up in the office. Speak to each of your team members and ensure that they have all the tools they need.
Once they have the technology they need, ensure they have a dedicated workspace and a chair that is sufficient. Ergonomics are important in both the home and remote office and as an employer you have a duty to protect the health and safety of your home workers.
Next, provide them with tools and access to your company’s private network. This may require some assistance from your IT department or provider so be sure to have their contact information at hand. You should also ask them to ensure that their home internet/broadband is sufficient and secure. A VPN can assist with this.
Once all of this is in place, be sure to regularly check in with your team to ensure that their equipment is in good working order.
As part of setting your team up with the correct equipment, you need to ensure that these expensive items are properly protected. Your office insurance could extend to cover your remote workers so you know they’re just as covered at home as they would be at work.
Connecting your team together
One of the biggest challenges faced when working from home is making remote employees feel connected with your team. This is mainly because we don’t have the luxury of walking up to them at their desks. There are a number of tools that can help with this, but it’s important to set clear boundaries to ensure productivity.
Start by establishing what methods of communication you will use, and what to do in case of emergencies (such as a last-minute change to a project). If your team bombards each other throughout the day with unnecessary communication, they could spend more time in the day responding to emails instead of completing their tasks. Having an instant chat tool can be very helpful for quick contact between your team members.
Another strategy is to limit certain communication tools for work – such as WhatsApp or text messages. This can help with the all-important separation of space and establishing boundaries (more on this later).
There are a number of other tools you can use to your advantage, such as content management systems. These can be used for tasks such as building websites or updating documents remotely in real-time. This can allow your team to work on projects simultaneously to boost your team’s productivity.
Keeping the team motivated
Working with your team in an office has a number of benefits, one of the major ones being that motivation is much easier to achieve. Most of us tend to work better knowing that our boss could walk past our desks at any time and see what we’re doing.
Furthermore, we get to see our colleagues on a regular basis and spend in an environment where success is encouraged.
When working from home, however, many of these elements are missing. Some of your team may be spending the better part of their day alone without interaction aside from that via a screen.
This is why it’s important to keep your team happy and motivated. There are a number of ways that you can go about this without resorting to the dreaded ‘zoom quiz’. Simple Friday drinks over a video chat, one-on-one check-ins, and even virtual escape rooms or games (yes they do exist) are all potential options for you and your team to connect.
Outside of fun and games, it’s also important to ensure that your team are completing their required tasks as they should. There are various tracking and project management tools that you can use, or you could set up a simple excel spreadsheet to track important tasks.
Lastly, ensure that you make yourself available for those who may need extra support. Working from home can be very isolating for some, so make sure you reach out if needed.
Work – life balance and respecting boundaries
As we touched on earlier, separation of space is important. This is why some people enjoy their commute home, it allows them to switch from work mode to home mode. When your office and home are in the same places, it can be harder to make this mental jump.
To combat this, set up strict boundaries for communication. For example, a blanket ban on emails and calls outside of office hours can make a big difference.
Here are some other things you can encourage your team to do:
- Taking a walk or exercising outside of their home soon after they finish working. This allows them to leave the house and come back in a different frame of mind.
- Changing into ‘work’ clothes can help to determine the different periods of your day.
- Making a clear plan for the day with to-do lists, and making time for actual breaks away from the workspace.
These are small changes that can make a big difference.
Tax relief options
A great benefit of working from home is tax benefits for your staff! This will vary on a case by case basis, but some or all of your team may be eligible to claim tax relief for items such as:
- Utilities such as gas, electricity, and metered water.
- Other bills such as internet and phone calls when used as part of your work.
It’s worth noting that you can’t claim these bills in their entirety, but you can find more information from HRMC here. Are you starting a new venture? Let us assist you in understanding the essential business insurance requirements for your industry.
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